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Scrappers stay hot with big 16-3 win over Spikes

NILES — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers wasted little time Wednesday securing their fifth win in their last six games.

The Scrappers sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning, scoring five runs en route to a 16-3 home win over State College.

The Scrappers (5-3) led off the bottom of the first with four consecutive singles. When all was said and done, Josh Stevenson and John Schroeder each collected a pair of RBI in the frame, while Garrett Pike knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Stevenson finished the night 5-for-5 with a walk, a pair of RBI and four runs scored.

Pike (3-for-4) hit a grand slam and knocked in seven runs.

The Scrappers scored at least one run in each of the first seven innings. They also recorded 10 stolen bases, all by the end of the fifth inning.

The Scrappers also benefited from five State College errors.

Scrappers starter Jaden Agassi worked four innings, giving up just one run on two hits while recording three strikeouts.

The Scrappers and Spikes will play the final game of their three-game series tonight at Eastwood Field. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

BATTLE HAS SEEN IT ALL

The way Tim Battle sees it, he has been through it all from both a life and baseball perspective.

He has experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. He understands the dreams and the struggles that a 20-year-old baseball player faces on a daily basis and he is eager to use his experience and knowledge to help today’s youth.

Battle is the first-year manager for the State College Spikes after serving as the Spikes’ hitting coach in 2023. He is now spending the first part of the week at Eastwood Field as his Spikes play a three-game series against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

“This is a great opportunity to give back to the game I love,” Battle said. “I love teaching the game. I love being able to provide some guidance through the eyes and mind of someone who knows what these players are going through.”

As his name would suggest, Battle had to fight his way through a professional career which encompassed 594 games during a 14-year stint in the minor leagues and independent ball.

His biggest battle took place after he was drafted, but before he played his first game in the minor leagues.

Battle was selected by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 2003 MLB Draft. At the age of 17 and fresh out of high school, Battle received a $420,000 signing bonus from the most decorated baseball franchise in the world.

However, when Battle arrived at spring training, he was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma in his ribs. Six months of chemotherapy treatments ensued before Battle was able to return to the baseball diamond.

“It was tough, it was a worrisome moment in my life, but I was reassured by the doctors that the cancer wasn’t going to spread and that I would eventually experience a complete recovery,” Battle said. “During that time I spoke to Darryl Strawberry, who had gone through colon cancer. I spoke to Dwight Gooden, who provided a wealth of inspiration.

“(Former Yankees owner) George Steinbrenner paid for all of my cancer treatments. It seemed like the entire baseball community was by my side. I had no doubt I was going to beat cancer and return to the game.”

Battle did return in 2004 and spent six years in the Yankees organization, signing a contract to play with the AAA affiliate before being released in 2008. He spent six more years in independent ball before finishing his career in Japan.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities that I had and I don’t have any regrets over the opportunities I may have missed,” Battle said. “Baseball has been good to me. I can’t complain.”

Once he retired as a player in 2016, Battle immediately began life as a coach and instructor. He owns and operates Battlegroundz Baseball in his hometown of Atlanta, where he develops young players. He spent several years traveling with national teams before landing with the Spikes in 2023.

“I’m in a good spot, I’m young enough to relate to the players, but old enough to provide some wisdom,” said the 37-year-old. “This game is a daily grind. It can wear you down both physically and mentally. I had some great mentors along the way. Now I want to provide the same leadership to these young players.”

Like his players, Battle hopes that his time in the MLB Draft League serves as a springboard toward opportunities at the next level. He says that teaching and coaching is “in his blood,” and he is now aiming at a career as a coach or manager in the big leagues.

“My goal from the get-go has always been to coach at the professional level,” Battle said. “I tell these players on a daily basis that this is a process, and if you have a passion for the game you can’t give up on your dream. I lived that as a player and now I’m living it as a coach.

“I’m really having fun. These first couple of weeks have reaffirmed my belief that I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do.”

Under Battle, the Spikes have raced off to a 5-1 start through the first week of the season.

Have an interesting story? Contact the Sports Department, at sports@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribChronSports.

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